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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pickoff Moves

Peter Gammons Shares Some Angels Love

They're flourishing despite early-season adversity:
The Angels have played a month without their two best starting pitchers, John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar. Their closer, Frankie Rodriguez, is just now rounding into form after dealing with two bad ankles. Their best pure hitter, Howie Kendrick, has played only 10 games because of a hamstring pull.

And yet they flew home early Monday, after winning four of six in Boston and Detroit, tied with Oakland for the best record in the American League. "They are," observed Jim Leyland, "really good." "We have a chance at something special," said Mike Scioscia, to which Torii Hunter added, "if our pitching comes together, we can be the best team in our league."

Giants Balk In Winning Run, Bochy Ejected: Rockies 3, Giants 2

A horrible one if you're a Giants fan, as Tim Lincecum balked in the winning run from third despite an apparent attempt by catcher Benjie Molina to call a timeout. Bruce Bochy was ejected for arguing the call.

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Christina Kahrl On The Angels' Late Roster Moves

Her piece is a pretty long one, so I'll cut to the chase:
Taken collectively, these moves are transitional, and reflect who is getting Mike Scioscia's complete confidence, for better or for worse. It isn't Morales, because like the already-banished Reggie Willits, he's blocked by the terrible tandem of elective commitments. First, there's the decision to give Garret Anderson the extended version viking funeral package that probably only puts Angels fans on slow burn, as the all-time great Angel sees his production flag. By itself, that might be affordable, maybe even something of a karmic giveback for all of the hastily severed relationships during the Mike Port years in the '80s; you didn't have to be an Angels fan to wonder why they treated Doug DeCinces or Rod Carew pretty shabbily at the end. The problem is that the roster's also cluttered with a white elephant that isn't one of Connie's pennant-winning Mackmen from days of yore, it's Little Sarge, cashing checks—and no need for him to apologize for that—and consuming equally valuable roster space and playing time.

... [If] it was my choice, I'd keep thinking about Brandon Wood as a shortstop. But as exciting as Aybar is, the Angels really shouldn't invest too much time in wishcasting that he's something more than the new Pat Listach or Eric Yelding—he's not a good enough shortstop to merit an Alfredo Griffin comparison, at least not yet, and perhaps not ever. That's nevertheless a player who has his uses, but it's not somebody who's part of a complete everyday lineup, especially not in a lineup which is punting offensive contributions from key spots like left field and DH. As Sidney J. Mussburger put it, “so, the kid caught a wave.” You want me to believe that Aybar's going to hit .329 for the year? “Yeah yeah, sure sure.”

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I think the writer is to dismissive of Aybar's skills as a shortstop, based on what I've seen so far this year. As far as GA is concerned, I guess I'm still a believer that he's going to put together a streak like he pulled off in the 2nd half last year, assuming he is in fact healthy. But yeah, GMJr. is the real problem, as Juan Rivera rots on the bench. That's the real tragedy.
I'm fine with Aybar at the moment. What I'd like to see is Figgins, as terrific as he's been with the glove at third this year, make it into left field, where he'd buoy our defense and stay healthy.

Anderson and Matthews are problems...that much I agree with. I'd like to see Wood and Brown legitimately battle it out at third, and see Napoli get 200 ABs a year at DH, to complement another 250 behind the plate. Napoli has the isolated power to actually profile as a DH, unlike the acronymic senior circuit of GA and GMJ.

2009, GA and Quinlan are gone. Matt Brown probably becomes our new Q. I'd love if the Angels finally came to the conclusion that GMJ is in fact a bench player, and cut his games to 80 or so.

Kotch - 1B
Kendrick - 2B
Aybar - SS
Wood/Brown - 3B
Mathis - C
Figgins - LF
Hunter - CF
Guerrero - RF
Napoli - DH

GMJ could play RF when Napoli is catching, with Vlad at DH. And otherwise become the reserve player he is.
The problem with the Napoli-at-DH idea (and it's not a bad one) is that this Angels team (and its apparent successors through at least the end of either GMJ's/Hunter's deal) have been engineered with the DH conceived as a resting spot for aging sluggers/guys pretending to be sluggers. The only way that Napoli gets those AB's is if, evil Spock style, he kills one of GMJ or Anderson, or both, because Reagins sure won't pull the plug on them.
Yes, my musing is prescriptive, not descriptive.

It's depressing that I have to hope for minor, non-life-threatening injuries to the greybeards in the hopes that reason prevails, if only accidentally.

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